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Transmit/Receive (T/R) Modules - Key Elements for Active Phased Array Antennas
Keywords: Transmit/Receive Modules, Active Phased Array Antenna, Power MMIC devices GaAs, GaN
Modern active electronically steered antennas (AESA) are operating in different platforms and systems. Inside EADS/CASSIDIAN the focus for X-Band antennas is seen in airborne and fighter nose radars, in satellite based SAR antennas (Synthetic Aperture Radar) for earth observation and ground surveillance and security radars. Typical active antennas are assembled with up to 1200 T/R modules. This paper will describe the architecture of a so called standardized module solution based on LTCC package technology. State-of-the art modules are assembled with active components like MMICs realized in GaAs technology, e.g. Low Noise Amplifier (LNA) and High Power Amplifier (HPA), Silicon based devices and passives. Assembly technologies are optimized for high yield series production inside CASSIDIAN MicroWave Factory. New semiconductor technologies, like GaN (Gallium Nitride) are enabler for a new T/R module generation. GaN/SiC based MMICs with a higher power density compared with GaAs based devices are technological challenges for innovative thermal management solutions and assembly alternatives. GaN power devices are soldered on modern heatsink materials with high thermal conductivities and matched CTEs (between MMIC and heatsink). The application of different adhesive and soldering materials and techniques will be discussed and an optimized solution for the best heat dissipation will be described. Finally, commercial LTCC package solutions for RF communication applications, like WiMAX and PtP radios will be discussed and compared to alternative package technologies and market driven issues, like operating lifetime and costs.
Martin Oppermann,
EADS Deutschland GmbH / CASSIDIAN
Ulm, Germany
Germany


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